ByMatt Kranis, writer at
President of the Salacious Crumb Fan Club. Staff Writer at Movie Pilot. Twitter: @Matt_Kranis
Matt Kranis

Director Ridley Scott created a sci-fi masterpiece with 1982's Blade Runner, crafting a cult classic with neo-noir cyberpunk tale of sentient androids and the man forced to hunt them down.

Of course, if you're a fan you're already well aware of the fact that director Denis Villeneuve's helming a follow-up to the beloved film featuring Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto and the return of Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, the titular Blade Runner. And while the untitled sequel's been shrouded in mystery, we now have a better sense of how Villeneuve's tackling the project.

The director sat down with The Hollywood Reporter at the Venice Film festival to talk about his latest release, the alien encounter drama Arrival, as well as his love of the sci-fi genre. Of course, the conversation turned to Blade Runner 2, and the director revealed how he feels about crafting a follow-up to the cult favorite:

"For me, what terrorizes me right now is what I’m doing is taking 'Blade Runner' and making it my own, and that is horrific. To realize that when I look at the dailies, it’s not Ridley Scott, it’s me, and that it’s different. It’s still the same universe, we are still in the same dream, but it’s mine, so it’s like I have no idea how you people will react, I don’t know. It has its own life."

It's natural for a director to be worried about their work, but Villeneuve also noted that "it’s not possible to live up to the original," calling it "one of the best films in the past 50 years." He clearly loves Blade Runner, but could that affection actually sabotage the sequel's success?

Directors Have To Show Love For Their Predecessors

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in "Blade Runner."
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in "Blade Runner."

Sequels are the norm in Hollywood, and while Summer 2016 might have been rough for big budget offerings we'll likely see more in the future. Naturally, that means more interviews of directors talking about how much they love the inspiration for their new films.

When talking about their sequels or franchise features, directors have to seem like huge fans of the source material. Studios need preexisting fans to help build hype for big releases, and the easiest way to earn their trust is to have a director who's also a fan — or at least appears as one. Putting a fan in the director's chair effectively promises moviegoers that they'll be happy with the final product, because it's being made with their interests and concerns in mind.

Villeneuve can't come out and say that he isn't a fan of Blade Runner — especially considering its cult of fans — and as such, needs to profess his love for the movie when pressed about it. That appreciation show's he's a member of the movie's cult fanbase, in turn bringing credibility to the production and getting people excited for the sequel.

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Can You Really Reinvent Something You Love?

Like many, Villeneuve is a huge Blade Runner fan, but would it be better if he didn't care about the film? As we've seen in some of Hollywood's recent sequels, franchise love can be a hindrance when trying to reinvent or update a series for modern audiences.

Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day: Resurgence."
Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day: Resurgence."

Look no further than Independence Day: Resurgence — one of the summer's biggest bombs — to see what I mean. The film basically copied the template of its predecessor, complete with the return of stars including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch among other 20 years later. Sure, it had bigger and better special effects, but in the end it feels like the movie exists in the shadow of its predecessor instead of doing much of anything new.

Even more successful sequels have fallen prey to fan love and Hollywood goodwill. Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have been the biggest movie of 2015, but it was criticized for borrowing a bit too heavily from Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope. Director J.J. Abrams was obviously a huge Star Wars fan, keen to add his own elements to the series, but couldn't escape the grasp of the previous movies in the same way he did with the rebooted Star Trek film franchise. In the end, it seems like a stronger personal connection prevented Abrams from straying too far from the Star Wars formula.

So, Is Villeneuve The Right Guy For The Blade Runner Sequel?

We'll have to wait for the final film to see whether Villeneuve's love for Blade Runner impacts his take on the sequel, but thankfully the director's filmography indicates he could handle the movie pretty well.

Films like 2013's Prisoners and 2015's Sicario have shown that the director knows how to create moody, crime-driven tales in a similar vein to Blade Runner's neo-noir style. And as we saw in 2013's Enemy, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal as a pair of identical twins, he isn't afraid of examining weighty issues of identity that echo the plight of Blade Runner's replicants.

It also helps that Arrival's premiere at the Venice Film Festival has garnered some great reviews ahead of its November 11 release date. The Blade Runner sequel marks Villeneuve's first foray into the Hollywood sequel game, but his prior success could lead to a seriously impressive film assuming the director can quell his concerns about living up to Ridley Scott's original.

The Blade Runner sequel will hit theaters on October 6, 2017. Do you think Denis Villeneuve is the right director for the film? Let us know in the comments below.

[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]


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